Work to help students gain job confidence and research with the potential to save lives have been shortlisted for top education awards.
A record number of entries were received for this year’s Times Higher Education Awards, nicknamed the Oscars of higher education.
De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has reached the finals of two categories – Research Project of the Year (STEM) and Outstanding Support for Students.
The Make Diversity Your Business conference, held over four days at Leicester’s Mariott Hotel, saw Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students work with employers to examine barriers to graduate employment, how companies could become more diverse and the opportunities available in Leicester.
It was part of the Leicester’s Future Leaders project, which aims to get more students from diverse backgrounds into high-skilled roles in the city. Working in partnership with local businesses Brewin Dolphin, Freeths LLP and Eileen Richards Recruitment, the event was the first step in creating a toolkit to help employers attract diverse graduate talent and has led to spin-off projects that support student employability.
Adele Browne, Head of Graduate Success at DMU, said: “Students rose to the challenge of taking part in a formal business conference, networking with business delegates and sharing their views and experiences. It was striking to see students and businesses learning about unconscious bias side by side and taking part in roundtable discussions as peers, with a shared interest in positive change.”
Eileen Richards MBE, of Eileen Richards Recruitment, said: “The Leicester Future Leaders programme is such a prominent project to be a part of, as a city we celebrate diversity but still our professionals at board level do not represent this. The programme provides the tools for leaders to be more consciously aware of their recruitment processes, enabling us as a region to retain top BAME talent.
"Due to the success of the programme and the inspiration instilled from the voices of our young people, ER Recruitment and DMU formed the BrightER Futures programme to similarly look at how we as a city bursting with successful SME’s and leading organisations can be supporting our emerging leaders to ensure we are retaining their talent within Leicester.”
2020 graduate Josiah Hyacinth held a role as student lead in the project. He said: “Taking part of this experience was life changing for me. I left the project with an increased sense of pride, and competence. This is how every student should leave their studies, and I believe this project not only inspired other students to diversify their view of the working world and their endless potential within it, but I can firmly testify that many students did feel that way. It was great to make my mark in such a manner."
Leicester's Future Leaders is co-funded by the Office for Students and is part of their challenge competition: industrial strategy and skills - which aims to increase opportunities for graduates across UK regions.
In the Research Project of the year (STEM) category, DMU in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University was shortlisted. Sarah Hall, senior lecturer in Forensic Analytical Chemistry, showed how emollient cosmetic creams like moisturisers, when dried on clothes and bedding, makes those fabrics more flammable.
More than 50 deaths in the UK have been linked to this and Dr Hall’s findings have changed safety advice from Government, manufacturers and provided more training for firefighters.
Dr Hall, lead researcher on the project, said: “I am truly honoured to have been shortlisted for this award. I am very humbled to be involved in this research alongside my partners and organisations who I collaborate with on emollient safety. It is wonderful to know that the research we do contributes to the awareness of the potential fire risk of emollients and safety campaigns to help to save lives.
“Being shortlisted is shining a light on our work and as a result, will help to ensure more people know about the risk which is imperative if we want to keep people safe and reduce fatalities.”
The THE awards celebrate achievements during the 2019-20 academic year, when the Covid-19 pandemic forced widespread campus shutdowns. As ever, they cover the full range of university activity – both academic and professional services, from front-line staff through all levels of leadership and management.
John Gill, THE’s editor, said this year’s awards would “reflect a period of turmoil and innovation necessitated by the pandemic”, yet the record number of entries was a sign of “the brilliance of universities across the whole of the UK and Ireland”.
“With almost 600 institutions, teams and individuals nominated, it really is a fantastic achievement to make it on to this year’s shortlists. We look forward to celebrating the incredible response of university staff in exceptionally tough circumstances when we gather for the ‘Oscars of higher education’ in November.”
The awards will be presented on November 25.
Posted on Friday 10th September 2021